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Hospitals told to stop using medicine in capsule scandal

(Xinhua)

11:23, April 21, 2012

BEIJING, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Chinese hospitals have been told to stop using medication that may have been packaged in contaminated medicine capsules, the Ministry of Health said Friday.

Hospitals must sort through their inventories, remove and seal any of the medications listed by the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) as being possibly contaminated, a ministry statement said.

The hospitals must also refrain from purchasing or using the listed medications until the SFDA finishes examining them, it said.

China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday that several companies have been manufacturing drug capsules with industrial gelatin, which contains a greater amount of chromium than edible gelatin and can be toxic if ingested in excessive amounts. It named several medications that have been packaged in the contaminated capsules.

In response to the report, the SFDA ordered 13 medications produced by nine pharmaceutical companies named in the TV report to be suspended from distribution and use until they are cleared by a lab analysis.

On Thursday, the SFDA announced analysis results for 42 batches of medication, finding that 23 of the batches contained excessive amounts of chromium, including several produced by the nine companies named in the CCTV report.

Manufacturers have been ordered to recall batches of contaminated medication and have them destroyed under supervision.

Three gel capsule producers in east China's Zhejiang province have had their manufacturing licenses revoked in relation to the incident.

According to a statement issued after a Friday meeting, the SFDA has asked its provincial branches to inspect all drug capsule makers, pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of gelatin for medical use.

Immediate and thorough inspections will be made in companies that have purchased capsules from the three capsule producers involved in the scandal, the SFDA statement said.

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